What does Scripture teach about playing video games, especially video games that have violent, adult, and other content that is sinful?For example, how should a Christian handle playing a video game such as Grand Theft Auto where the games glorifies obscenities, illicit sex and murder along with many other sinful activities? Or what about a military type video game where violence is glorified in the context of war? Is it wrong according to God's Will and Word to immerse ourselves in such forms of entertainment?
Jesus told us something very important about ourselves... “Your eye is a lamp that provides light for your body. When your eye is good, your whole body is filled with light. But when it is bad, your body is filled with darkness. Make sure that the light you think you have is not actually darkness. If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.” (Luke 11:34-36 NLT). What Jesus is telling us is actually a warning about the dangers of what we allow into our minds: what you look at, where you look, what you focus upon influences your actions and ultimately who you are. For example, a person who looks at pornography has less resistance to committing a sexual sin than a person who does not look at pornography. A person who hears profanity a lot will find it much easier to use profanity, especially when he or she isn't thinking carefully.
In the computer world, there is a phrase "garbage in, garbage out" which means the quality of information you get out of a computer can only equal what you put into it. The same is true of the human mind.
If you fill your mind with garbage, what comes out of your mind will be similar to what you put in... garbage. Recently, various research studies have shown that people who watch and participate in various forms of violence based entertainment tend to be more aggressive and potentially violent. What you feed the mind affects the whole person.
What we do in actions starts first with what we think about.To that point Jesus warned us... “It is what comes from inside that defiles you. For from within, out of a person’s heart, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery, greed, wickedness, deceit, lustful desires, envy, slander, pride, and foolishness. All these vile things come from within; they are what defile you.” (Mark 7:20-23 NLT). Since you can't play a video game, watch a show, listen to music, or read a book without thinking about its content, it is clear, to some degree, that the content is going influence the formation of your attitudes, what you think about, how you think and ultimately the way you behave.
“Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” (1 Corinthians 15:33 NLT). Knowing the influence friends can exert over our behavior, we must also be careful about the other things we allow into our lives. For example, when you select a book to read, do you avoid books that contain profanity or which glorifies sex outside of marriage? Do you evaluate the themes and contents of programs you watch on television? Do you have the courage and strength of conviction to give up watching television programming that uses profanity, presents skimpy clothing and one night stands – not to mention the racy commercials that are shown. The same standard should be applied to video games. If what is being depicted is sinful, then Christians shouldn't be playing them. Why would a Christian put themselves in a role of doing what cannot morally be done in real life? The usual defense... “its not real” or “its just fantasy” doesn’t work with the Holy God.
Excuses abound, especially among Christians, as they seek to self-justify their treasured forms of entertainment.Most will argue that they are unaffected by violent video games or movies. For example, there are some that play extremely violent games, yet they don't act out their violence. How should we respond biblically to such arguments?
Reflect on Mark 7 and consider this question... would simply thinking about such sinful content while playing a video game or watching a film be sinful? For example, what if a person is watching a film about gangs, and the film portrays gangs committing murder and engaging in sinful sexual relations, possibly a gang rape. If the person simply saw the film and thought about those sinful things happening as they were shown on the screen, but never dwell on them to gratify themselves in any way or form, would that constitute sin? Or what if there was only one illicit sexual scene in one movie, but the rest was not focused on that, would that qualify as not appropriate for a Christian?
Just because a person makes a claim, it doesn't necessarily follow that their claim is true. The problem when dealing with sin is realizing that it is deceptive. "But evil men and impostors will grow worse and worse, deceiving and being deceived" (2 Timothy 3:13). A person can be fully convinced that they aren't being influenced, but they haven't been tested, so how would they know? For example, consider Christians who don't use profanity during church activities and claim to be able to go movies with profanity without being effected, yet when they get angry all sorts of profanity pours from their mouth. Somehow they have convinced themselves that they have no problem with profanity.
Christians can engage in various forms of entertainment and believe they are not being affected by the content. What saddens me is the typical response... "I didn't notice!" That’s the problem. We get so numb to sin that we don't even see it when it’s right in front of us. "But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil" (Hebrews 5:24). Christians who “don’t notice” are unable to discern the difference between sinful things and godly things. Such Christians are at high risk of failing a real test when confronted with the choice of active participation in a sinful act or running for safety.
One of the “discernment” problems with many movies is that evil is not always portrayed as evil. For example...the hero jumps into bed with the heroine to show that they love each other, and this is supposed to be a good thing. In a world with fewer and fewer explicit boundaries, young people especially are convinced that this is the way it is supposed to work. Young people will often tell us older folks that we don’t understand. Understand what? That sexual talk, innuendo, suggestive gestures is how young people express their feelings these days? Young Christians today are oblivious to the reality of their self-centered and ungodly views. Satan has ensnared them and is leading an entire generation away from living Holy lives.
There is an old cliche that if you say something often enough, people will believe it. It certainly is true with most movies."Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons, speaking lies in hypocrisy, having their own conscience seared with a hot iron" (I Timothy 4:1-2). While they might not have gone so far in their sins, it is still a problem that they are becoming numb to the existence of sin.
Violent video games can take this several steps further. You are no longer a passive watcher but an active participant. True, it is all imaginative and fantasy, but think of what it is doing to your thoughts and your natural response [attitude] towards evil things.
"Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For you are the temple of the living God. As God has said: "I will dwell in them And walk among them. I will be their God, And they shall be My people." Therefore "Come out from among them And be separate, says the Lord. Do not touch what is unclean, And I will receive you." "I will be a Father to you, And you shall be My sons and daughters, Says the LORD Almighty." Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God" (2 Corinthians 6:14 - 7:1).
If you embrace the twisted philosophies of the world as many Christians do, you begin to rationalize that God is trying to ruin all the fun you could have in this life. NO, that is not the case at all. It’s just the opposite... God is trying to protect us, mostly from ourselves and the bad choices we make. We resist, sometimes with all our might, His protections. Instead of seeking a separation from sinful things, we welcome them in because they are called "entertainment." "I have hated the assembly of evildoers, and will not sit with the wicked. I will wash my hands in innocence; so I will go about Your altar, O LORD that I may proclaim with the voice of thanksgiving, and tell of all Your wondrous works" (Psalm 26:5-7).
Take note of the following passage where Peter urges Christians to gird up the loins of the mind. "Therefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ; as obedient children, not conforming yourselves to the former lusts, as in your ignorance; but as He who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, because it is written, "Be holy, for I am holy"" (I Peter 1:13-16).
In the old days people wore robes, which made running hard. So when activity was needed they would pull up the back of their robes through their legs and tuck them through the front of their belts. The result looked something like long shorts. Then they were ready to work or run. Peter is telling Christians to get their minds ready to be holy. It is not just what you do but also preparing what you think. Flirting with the edges of inappropriate thoughts is not the way to get prepared for a life of godliness.
What’s the big deal anyway?As Christians we are expected to live on a higher moral plane than the ungodly citizens of the world. The life style expected of us by God... is "holy living". Maybe you haven’t acted out in sinful conduct, yet. Or by your standards been affected by violence, profanity and sexual content in various forms of entertainment. in your mind you can be a Christian and have your cake and eat it too.
He is a Holy God and expects us to aspire to the same standards of Holy living. Does He find our divided loyalties acceptable? Is He okay with our dalliances in worldly entertainment that offends Him and violates His sacred commandments?
What does God think about you and such an attitude?
We should be afraid of what we know... God has warned us many times in many ways to avoid the things and practices of the world or suffer consequences. We should also be very afraid of our tendency to mask reality with a self-induced way of thinking and rationalizing that “God is okay with what I do because_________________.” You fill in the blank with your own words and see if what you say will hold up to the ultimate test... God's standard. “You are in the hands of the living God, a fearful thing” and quiet possibly a situation that bears dreadful consequences if you mock His Holiness.” (Hebrews 10:31)
Make no mistake, the “requirement” to live a holy life is a call to a strenuous life. Christianity is not a leisurely lifestyle that appeals to wimps, cowards and the unmotivated. It is an obstacle course fraught with challenges thrown at us by Satan, God’s adversary. Whether young or old you must be prepared and hardened for the task.
Don’t be fooled... Baptism DOES NOT save you for easy street, wherein you can continue to live an unholy lifestyle and freely partake of sinful things and you’re assured of eternity. (Romans 6:1-2) How naive you are if that’s what you believe! The blood of Christ gives you a fresh start, to soberly live a life of obedience and submission in a constant and unrelenting quest for holy living apart from the unholy things of the world. That lifestyle will win your crown of salvation, nothing less.
Written by Steven Haught